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Losing Two Hours of Sleep Could Permanently Erase Memories: Study

Update Date: Oct 17, 2012 08:41 AM EDT

Not having a good night's sleep keeps us disturbed throughout the next day, and makes us unable to concentrate on things around us. While it is known that lack of sleep can cause a momentary absent mindedness, researchers in a recent finding reveal that losing just 2 hour sleep could even cause permanent loss of events.

According to the research, dropping from eight hours to six hours of sleep could prevent the brain from storing memories, which means that memory could not be retrieved ever.

"I think what it really means for modern life is that sleep is not a luxury. It is really critically important for the brain and for the brain to function and for you to be able to really remember and consolidate what's happened to you over the day. I think we often feel that if we could grab a cup of coffee and answer five more emails, we would have done everything we could do. Sometimes it might be better to go to sleep and deal with it after," Researcher Ted Abel was quoted as saying by Mail online.

For the study, the researchers form the University of Pennsylvania studied how mice that were stopped from sleeping scored on a memory task.

The mice were kept awake for different time durations for the researchers to identify exactly how much lost sleep caused their recall to be damaged.

 "What we found is that when we deprived animals of sleep, that impaired storage of memories. And most importantly we found out that a very short period of time would block memory consolidation, it was as short as three hours, which for mice is something like 20 per cent of their sleep over 24 hours. In human terms, it would be the equivalent of dropping an eight-hour night of sleep to six hours, which is something we do all the time," the professor told the New Orleans conference.

The research was presented at the Society for Neuroscience's annual conference.

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